The Illegal Animal Trade

I hate to have my blog be too much of a downer, but I recently received the January – March issue of a publication called On the Trail and it was a real eye-opener. It arrived as an email attachment and thought it was just another newsletter about poaching. I see them all the time. But what set this one apart was that it was 108 pages long, it comes out 4 times a year, and it is not comprised of lengthy articles. It was page after page of short blurbs about illegal animal trade activities from around the world – and it was not all rhino horns and elephant tusks (although there was plenty of information about those, as well).

Here is but a brief sampling:

Seizure of a thousand seahorses (3 kg), Madagascar, February 19, 2015

 Conviction for trafficking of 27 kg of Manta ray gills, Indonesia, February 2015

 Seizure of 15 jaws bones, about 40 vertebrae, and bones of African manatee, Togo, March 31, 2015

Conviction for narwhal tusks trafficking, State of Maine, USA, January 2015

Seizure of 190 black pond turtles, Singapore, January, 2015


 Arrest for poisoning of at least 200 blue cranes, South Africa, February 2015

Aldicarb is a pesticide that is prohibited in the European Union. Farm workers used it to coat the cereal seeds that killed the blue cranes. This malpractice had been going on for at least 3 years. It is thought that there have been nearly a thousand victims in all. NGOs and farmers’ unions have condemned this “cruel and deliberate mass murder”. In South Africa, the blue crane population has declined from 100,000 to 20,000 in 20 years.

Crane, Blue

But then, way down on page 87, finally some good news:

Seizure of an elephant, Kandalama, Central Province, Sri Lanka, March 2015

The young elephant was found in an old colonial home. His age has not been determined. His owner is apparently a political figure. For the powerful, the nouveau riche, and Buddhist priests, having an elephant at home or in one’s temple is a must. However, things may be changing. Captive elephants are being checked for their identity increasingly often. Those who have an elephant stolen from the forests as a prestigious pet may be imprisoned without remission, without the option of release on bail.

asian elephant

The publication is put out by an organization out of Paris called ROBIN DES BOIS, a Non-Governmental Organization for the Protection of Man and the Environment Since 1985. For more information, go to

I suppose we are making some progress in our struggle to save wildlife – but we clearly have a long way to go!


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